By Hutton Marshall | SDUN Editor
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, the City Council voted unanimously on the initial hearing on the Mid-City Interim Height Ordinance, which will limit building heights in Mission Hills to 50 feet, and to 65 feet in Hillcrest until the Uptown Community Plan update is enacted. While this was the initial hearing of the measure, and will return for another vote by the council in coming weeks, Mission Hills Heritage Chairman Barry Hager, a supporter of the height limit, called this second reading “perfunctory.”
“It was about as clean a victory as you can get,” Hager said.
While there is no definite timeline in place for the Uptown Community Plan’s completion, Hager anticipates this will be done by the end of 2015.
“It sounds like 18 to 24 months if everything goes smoothly,” Hager said. “We’re eager to begin working with the city on putting together a plan that works for everyone.”
The interim height limit affects only one aspect of the final community plan, which will regulate a wide range of building codes. The interim height ordinance is contentious among populated neighborhoods in Uptown and Mid-City, because while many like Hager argue that it preserves the character of these neighborhoods—fearing they will become a duplicate of San Diego’s downtown—others argue that limiting building heights without a discretionary process stifles development and community input.
A Nov. 6 post on Great Streets San Diego’s website written by Walter Chambers admonished the passing of the IHO, calling it a “complete failure for Uptown and for everyone involved.”
“Needless to say, 10 years of an interim planning ordinance has spooked developers, and nearly halted economic development in Uptown,” Chambers wrote. “Now uptown can only sit by and watch as new development goes up in North Park, Little Italy, Golden Hill, Downtown, and Bankers Hill.”
“There’s still plenty of development taking place. We’ve had quite a few projects built that are within the interim height limit such as the 3940 on fifth avenue—where Snooze and D Bar are located” Hager said in defense of the ordinance. “There’s no reason why you can’t build what needs to get built within 50 or 65 feet. That’s still a big building.”
Ultimately the newly recreated Planning Department, which was consolidated into Developmental Services by former Mayor Jerry Sanders, will produce the plan that will be heard by city council. Hager said community planning groups, which will give their input to the planning dept., will begin meeting next month.